eCV Newsletter, published by the University of Mississippi Medical Center
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Low-dose CT screen better pinpoints lung cancer

Low-dose CT screen better pinpoints lung cancer

He’s between 55 and 74, and either smokes now or kicked the habit within the previous 15 years. During the time he was a smoker, he went through at least a pack a day, for at least 30 years.

And, he has no history of malignancies – yet – beyond basic skin cancer.

That’s the person, male or female, who is at high risk for lung cancer. Physicians at the University of Mississippi Medical Center urge them to take advantage of a relatively new screening to discover lung cancer earlier, and perhaps save their life by being proactive.

With early detection, “we can treat it more effectively and obtain cures,” said Dr. Srinivasan “Vijay” Vijayakumar, professor of radiation oncology and director of the UMMC Cancer Institute.  

And just because you’re healthy and feel fine doesn’t mean cancer cells aren’t lurking, he said.

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Dr. Charles O’Mara: Relationship-builder on, off campus

Dr. Charles O’Mara: Relationship-builder on, off campus

He can stroll on the Medical Center’s southeast side and glimpse Murrah High School and the old Bailey Junior High, where he studied as a teen growing up in Jackson.

Other memories – such as climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa – by comparison seem a world away.

Dr. Charles O’Mara, with nine months under his belt as UMMC's associate vice chancellor for clinical affairs, came to the job with life experiences that help him build relationships on and off the Medical Center campus and tackle challenges that range from patient safety to doing more with less.

“I’ve heard an interesting comment: Our jobs are formulated for us, but to some extent, we formulate our own jobs as leaders by matching our skills to what needs to be done,” said O’Mara, a vascular surgeon in private practice for more than 30 years before coming to the Medical Center in 2013.

O’Mara graduated from the University of Mississippi. He earned his medical degree at Tulane University and completed a surgical residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He completed his vascular surgery fellowship at Northwestern University in Chicago, then returned to serve on the surgical faculty at Johns Hopkins.

But he came back to Mississippi in the early 1980s. His brother, a physician practicing in Carthage, had died of leukemia at age 33. “He had three very young sons, and I wanted to be part of their lives. I also had an opportunity to join an outstanding private practice surgical group,” O’Mara said.

O’Mara earned a master of business administration degree in the health-care program at the University of Texas at Dallas in 2011 and spent the last five years prior to joining the Medical Center on the medical staff at Baptist Hospital. He and his wife Susan make 40 acres in Ridgeland their home, and together have four children and nine grandchildren.

Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and Dean of the School of Medicine James Keeton brought O’Mara on board as a special advisor in August 2013 after O’Mara had a conversation with him concerning his hopes of combining direct patient care with other health-care administrative experience.

“That led to other discussions, which led to me coming here,” O’Mara said. “It was an unusual opportunity for me to give back in a way that has real meaning.”

“We are very fortunate to have someone of his caliber in this role, particularly with his training,” Keeton said. “His knowledge base of the community is very important to us now. He brings a great deal of stability to the clinical world from the vice chancellor’s office.”

O’Mara’s days revolve around five main areas of focus: strategic planning, relationship building for external collaboration, advancing the value equation in a number of Medical Center platforms, being an internal liaison for the vice chancellor’s office, and ensuring efficiency in facilities management and operations.

In those roles, O’Mara builds many bridges, from collaborations with other area hospitals to strengthening ties with clinical department chairs and the UMMC adult and children’s hospitals.

“I get around to each of our department chairs to have one-on-one discussions on a regular basis. Many of them I see several times a week,” O’Mara said. “Externally, I collaborate with other physicians and health-care providers in the community, with the goal of us all using our limited resources in the most useful way.”

Dr. Bill Little, the Patrick Lehan Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and chair of the Department of Medicine, said he meets frequently with O’Mara.

“Dr. O’Mara brings a wealth of experience and wisdom,” Little said. “He is an excellent listener who understands our perspectives on the issues the Medical Center faces, and ensures that they are considered and integrated into the decision-making process.

“He’s been very helpful in finding innovative solutions to the complex challenges he faces.”

So much of his job, O’Mara said, is about relationship building.

“I like to interact with people to solve difficult problems, and to know that if they can be addressed effectively, it will make a difference to people,” he said.

In vascular surgery, he said, “you connect or repair a blood vessel, and you know pretty quickly if it’s worked.” But not so in the administrative world, O’Mara said.

“It usually doesn’t work like that. It’s after a delayed process that you might see results, but I don’t find that frustrating.”

Focusing on the bigger picture, from strategic planning to UMMC’s mission statement, is part of the task at hand, O’Mara said. “It’s something we should all be able to recite,” he said of the mission statement. 

“We are going to do everything we can to accomplish the very best health for Mississippians. If you think of what is best for the health of Mississippi, and for the patient, you will usually make the right decision.”

O’Mara is charged with helping to ensure the goals of the new strategic plan are accomplished. “One of them is patient-centered care, which is doing what is right for the patient,” O’Mara said. 

That means all Medical Center employees should make patient safety and quality care a continuing priority, every day. “Even if an authority figure does something you’re not comfortable with, you are empowered to question it,” he said.

Another challenge going forward, O’Mara said, is maximizing efficiency in facilities and operational management through the best allocation of resources. “We need to have the right people doing the right thing in the right place,” he said. 

“The hardest challenge of my job is dealing with the fact that this is a complex institution, and it affects many people. Many stakeholders must be included in decisions,” O’Mara said. 

He said he’s heartened by the health-care professionals who have come to work for the Medical Center from other states, yet immediately understand and buy into the work it will take to address longstanding health disparities and ongoing battles to turn around conditions such as obesity and diabetes.

“I’m inspired by the opportunity for the state to address challenging health problems with limited resources, but in a way that we will set a standard for other states,” O’Mara said. “We are uniquely positioned for that.”


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VC finalists give vision for Medical Center

When members of the UMMC community last week heard from two longtime academic administrators at campus-wide town hall meetings, they walked out with a better understanding of the pair's ideas, goals and hopes for the Medical Center.

One of those physicians - Dr. LouAnn Woodward, UMMC associate vice chancellor for health affairs and vice dean of the School of Medicine, and Dr. Stephen Spann, a veteran family medicine educator and chief medical officer at a John Hopkins Medicine International teaching hospital in the United Arab Emirates - this month will likely be named successor to Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs James Keeton, also the School of Medicine dean.

They emerged as finalists after an exhaustive and far-reaching search  by a committee facilitated by Dr. Patrick Smith, UMMC's chief faculty affairs officer, and his staff. The two candidates will be submitted unranked to University of Mississippi Chancellor Dan Jones, who will present his final selection to the board of the state's Institutions of Higher Learning, possibly at the board's meeting Feb. 19. 

About 100 people were present for each of the two town hall meetings, and there was no shortage of questions for Spann and Woodward. Ole Miss Provost Morris Stocks introduced the candidates, who each gave a 20-minute presentation, followed by 40 minutes of questions ranging from how they'd support more interprofessional education to their plans for enhancing the Medical Center's research mission.

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VC finalists give vision for Medical Center

UMMC staff receive service recognition

UMMC staff receive service recognition

The Medical Center is proud to acknowledge those employees who will celebrate service anniversaries this week:

25 Years

Mary Albin, business operations manager, School of Medicine (Neurobiology and Anatomical Sciences)
Ronny Bunn, carpenter, Building Maintenance (Carpenter Shop)
Allen Luttrell, technician, Environmental Services

20 Years

Kimberly Bunn, performance improvement analyst, Patient Financial Services

15 Years

Wayne Johnson, inpatient nurse, Batson Children’s Hospital (surgical suite)
Ryan Sturdivant, systems administrator, Information Systems

10 Years

Deidre Graham, dental assistant, School of Dentistry (Advanced General Dentistry)
Deborah Joiner, care coordinator nurse, School of Medicine (Cardiology)
Shandra Kelly, sponsored program administrator, School of Medicine (Infectious Diseases)

5 Years

Avondra Jackson, phlebotomist, Adult Hematology Lab
Dianna Patterson, pharmacist, Hospital Retail Pharmacy
Angie Rucker, clinical trials coordinator, School of Medicine (Rheumatology)
Dianne Schimmel, ambulatory nurse, School of Medicine (Dermatology)
Judith Sumrall, nurse anesthetist, School of Medicine (Anesthesiology)
Angel Thomas, end user compliance specialist, Information Systems

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Research town hall, Oregon, UAB research' presentations highlight upcoming events

A number of interesting events is scheduled for the upcoming week at the Medical Center.

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Research town hall, Oregon, UAB research' presentations highlight upcoming events
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